I am being dragged backwards, in total darkness. A hot, sweet liquid pours down my chin and my hands grasp out, finding only sandpaper. Suddenly, I am lifted completely off the ground by a tiny, exquisite Japanese dancer with sadomasochistic tendencies. Her face is on mine. I gasp for air. This is just the start.
The British-born artist Sean Rogg's genre-defying vision, The Waldorf Project, is back with its most ambitious chapter to date. Chapter 1 / MuskMelon redefined how we taste. Chapter 2 / Colour redefined perception. Chapter 3 / Futuro redefines reality. Rogg hasn't just pushed at the boundaries of immersive art, he has smashed straight through them. "The Waldorf Project is the most extreme, hardcore, intense experience out there, but its ultimate aim is not to shock—but to bring you the LIGHT," Rogg notes.
Staged under the concept of the Japanese emotion 'AMAE,' a temporary surrender, Rogg has stripped bare reality. "I had a bold vision of the future, I speculated whether you could actually consume energy," Rogg tells The Creators Project. "I realized that trauma, used correctly, can be a tool, focusing a person and preparing them for other creative content. Armed with that power I was free to create the impossible." The impossible is a dystopian world beyond your wildest dreams, intricately crafted and choreographed to manipulate your emotions. It is insane. It will blow your mind.
Waldorf Project Ch 3/ Futuro. Image credit: Lee Arucci
There is a Saki novel, The Unrest Cure, on which the film The Game is based. In it, the fabric of a man's world is totally shaken in order to wake him from his living slumber. In an age where we crave visceral experience, in this world where we long to be alive, The Waldorf Project really is The Unrest Cure.
From the bitter novocaine-like shot at the start, to the beating sound that pulsates through you as you fall, this is immersion like you've never known it before. The detail is phenomenal. Even the fabrics glow in sync with you. Sean explains how the costumes, designed by Elena Martin, use proximity sensors to "feel the behavior of surrounding guests and react, emitting lightscapes that enhance your emotion." It is a total art form, experienced through every sense.
Sound pushes down on me, light blinds me, alien textures wrap around me. Sometimes I am tied to strangers, sometimes left utterly alone in vast spaces, kneeling in submission. There are beautiful, terrifying creatures who live within this space. Their touch can be gentle, kind, sexual, hard. Time dissolves. Here there is only feeling. At one point I am fed warm liquid by a dancer who writhes in ecstasy or agony, maybe both.
Later, a dark non-Newtonian substance pours down my face and into my mouth, changing between solid and liquid as it falls, literally defying the laws of physics. I am dragged, carried, held. I am running through the darkness towards a light. I cannot see my feet. It is terrifying, exhilarating, incredible. These are tiny moments of an epic journey. I can't tell you more, or what lies on the other side. You have to get there yourself. But "Surrender and you will arrive reborn," as the saying goes. Beg, borrow, steal a ticket. It's an experience you will never forget.
The Waldorf Project - Chapter Three / Futuro has now been extended until December 4th, 2016 at Here East, London, UK, E20 3BS. Click here to learn more.